Friday, March 4, 2011
Dominant-Minority Relations: Malmo, Sweden
Joseph Rodriguez, with the BBC World Service, has an interesting piece posted titled, "Open Eye: Swedish racial tension." The photofilm effectively demonstrates dominant-minority relations in a community of Malmo, Sweden, known as Rosengard.
The piece is an effective tool in illustrating how social stratification (social inequality) influences youthful minority group members. As the photofilm shows, young people from Rosengard, live in a heavily segregated community, estranged from the majority population. And in this community, young Palestinians, Iraqis, Somalis, and so on compete with one another for respect in a space with limited resources.
Those interviewed speak of exclusion and stereotyping on the part of the dominant Swedish culture, who do not always offer young minority students equal opportunities to be exposed to conventional workplaces. Interviewees also describe examples of avoidance, in that some minority group members feel more comfortable remaining in ethnic enclaves, speaking their native language rather than Swedish.
Deviance is displayed as a reaction among minority youth, who resist what they define as an oppressive and exclusionary broader Swedish culture, as well as retreatism into substance use and withdrawl from the overall social system.
Because the photofilm is so heavily fixated on the minority youths' perspectives from Rosengard, viewers get a biased perspective on how these groups are integrating (or not integrating) into Sweden's culture. In other words, although youth interviewed overtly state most minority youth from Rosengard do not engage in deviant behaviors, the overall sense in the photofilm is that minority, immigrant youth tend to be trouble-makers (this is a concern that emerges whenever a complex issue is condensed into a piece with limited time).
Finally, the piece (in particular, the lengthier 22-minute podcast) offers excellent content for discussing how a society can address social stratification and deviance. Youth discuss Sweden's robust educational and rehabilitative social services. Again, unfortunately, because youth who are not succeeding according to the majority groups' standards are profiled, listeners are left thinking minority group members are more inclined to exploit these services, rather than use them constructively to secure upward social mobility.
Overall, this is a fantastic film that can spark a number of important conversations regarding multiculturalism, immigration, governmental/social support, dominant-minority relations, and how one coveys messages to the public through media outlets with limited timeframes.